Service dog recovering after escaping Miller Road fire

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:52 PM PDT
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MAUPIN Ore. (KPTV) - A Maupin man’s service dog suffered burns after narrowly escaping the Miller Road fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

Ben Wills said his dog, Toby, is now resting and recovering at home from the minor burns he suffered, Tuesday.

Wills said he and his family went whitewater rafting that morning on the Deschutes River.

It was on the trip that they learned a fire was burning close to their home, where Ben’s service dog and all the family’s pets and chickens were.

“The river guide told us that there was a fire near our house,” Ben Wills said, Friday. “We found out about it but there was nothing we could do to get there because we were still on the river, had about 2.5 miles left.”

“Once we got back into cellphone range, everybody was calling us, telling us to get out of there, not to be at home,” Wills added.

But Ben Wills and his wife Tess were determined to save their pets, their house and Toby.

Getting home, however, was daunting in itself.

“We came around and the fire burst in front of our car and we couldn’t go any further and the fire department pulled up and put out the fire and asked us to come up there and asked us if we were missing our dog,” Wills said.

“I barely recognized him but it was my dog,” Wills added. “I got him in the car and the fireman kept spraying down the fire so we could drive by.”

The firefighter told the family that Toby had caught fire.

“He said that he had found Toby on fire, at one point, and he tried and tried to put him out and had him under his truck at one point, but he ran and ran and the other firefighters that found him down the road said he had been running through the fire,” Wills recalled.

Tess then took Toby to the vet for care while Ben went to work fighting the fire.

The family’s other dogs, cats and chickens all survived – their home untouched by the flames.

“Some sergeant called me and said that he had been up to the house and let the dogs out so that way they stood a chance and for some reason, there was a magic bubble around our house and our giant propane tank that didn’t burn,” Ben said.

The family said they are grateful for firefighters and all the first responders who came to the rescue in their time of need.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by support,” Ben said.

Most of all, they are thankful Toby is okay.

“He’s a wonderful dog and he’s been my best friend and he’s helped me through a lot,” Ben said.

You can donate to help Toby by visiting GoFundMe here.